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18th April 2024 | Big Easy Tour

Vorster claims emphatic victory in Big Easy final

Parys Golf and Country Club member, Leon Vorster overturned a two-shot deficit to win The Final of the Altron Big Easy Tour by four on 13-under-par 203 at Blue Valley Golf and Country Estate on Thursday.

Not only did Vorster’s victory hand him his maiden Altron Big Easy Tour title, but it also earned him and the other top 11 players on the Order of Merit their Sunshine Tour playing privileges for next season. Vorster carded a final round 67 which was characterised by six birdies and a solitary drop en route to claiming the championship in Centurion.

“I played really well today,” said a delighted Vorster after his win. “I got off to a strong start and that helped with the momentum going forward. The front nine was very important for me to set myself up on the leaderboard. Then, I made some crucial par saves on the back nine and that really gave me some confidence to finish it off.

“Being confident in this game can take you a long way, especially for me. So, I think my attitude helped me a lot today.”

Vorster’s win also catapulted him to the top of the Order of Merit, unseating Royal Cape Golf Club’s Samuel Simpson who had occupied the summit before this event. He credited the Altron Big Easy Tour for ensuring his swift return to the Sunshine Tour which is every player’s aspiration.

“You can’t put into words, the impact that Altron has made in our lives as professionals,” Vorster said. “The Big Easy is our way into the Sunshine Tour and to have a sponsor like Altron coming in to invest in us and our dreams is just wonderful. We have a full schedule where we play and don’t have to sit at home and it’s all thanks to such organisation and the Sunshine Tour.

“Personally, this win means a lot to me. There are so many people who are part of this journey and for me to be able to win a tournament and to know I’m going to be playing on the Sunshine Tour again is exciting.

“My focus now will be on trying to keep my Sunshine Tour card and making a few cuts. But, I just want to get better at golf in general and now that I have an opportunity to compete against the best, it just feels amazing.”

Ricky Hendler, Jason Roets and Keegan Mclachlan had already secured their cards for next season ahead of this final tournament of the regular Big Easy season. Both Hendler and Roets finished within the top 12 on the standings and having already secured their cards even before this event teed off, their places will be taken by the next two players on the list: Andrew Williamson and Philip Geerts. Roets finished outside the top 12 but won’t be awfully bothered.

The other players who earned their Sunshine Tour cards via the Altron Big Easy Tour are Simpson, Werner Deyzel, Stals Swart, Ruan de Smidts, Dylan O’Leary, Dayne Moore, Travis Ladner, Andre De Decker, Therion Nel and State Mines Country Club’s Vaughn Van Deventer.


17th April 2024 | Big Easy Tour

Roets pulls clear ahead of final round at Blue Valley

Jason Roets backed up his opening round of 68 with a brilliant six-under-par 66 in the second round of the Final of the Altron Big Easy Tour, pulling two shots clear on 10-under on Wednesday.

Roets has set himself up for a dream finish to this season as he leads the field by two strokes ahead of the final round here on Thursday. He had a fast start on Wednesday as he birdied his first three holes. He gave a shot away on the fourth but recovered with back-to-back birdies on seven and eight.

He birdied the 10th but dropped again on the next hole. He stabilised himself after that bogey and made five straight pars as he worked to keep the big numbers at bay. Those were followed by a brace of birdies on 17 and the last.

“It was very nice to get off to a start like that,” said Roets who plays out of Eye of Africa. “I made a good putt on one; hit it close on two and then two-putted for birdie on three, so it was a solid start. It kind of set the tone for the day. When I got to the back nine, I kind of tried to keep doing what I was doing on the front.

“I was very patient today. These 54-hole events are tricky, so all you’re trying to do in the first two days is to play yourself into contention and I have done that this week. The final round is going to be exciting but I must stay focused and do what I have been doing, have fun and stay in the moment.”

With the duo of Eagle Canyon’s Travis Ladner and Leon Vorster lurking just two strokes back, Roets will need to bring his A-game if he is to walk out of Blue Valley victorious. Both Ladner and Vorster shot rounds of 66s on day two, with Ladner firing in a bogey-free effort.

“It feels good to be in this position again,” Ladner said. “I started well yesterday but I finished badly. So, to come out here today with a better attitude and shoot six-under was satisfying. I want to play on the Sunshine Tour again next season and a strong performance here will help me get there. I am doing everything I can to make that happen. I think I’m eighth on the Order of Merit and a good finish here will guarantee me that card.”

As pleased as he was with his second round, Parys Golf and Country Club’s Vorster didn’t want to look too far ahead after his spectacular 66.

“I won’t think about it differently,” Vorster said of the looming final round of the season. “It’s just golf and you have to enjoy it and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Obviously, I want to do well but you must still enjoy yourself whilst you are at it. My goal is to get back to the Sunshine Tour and I hope I can have a good finish this week.”

Only the top 30 players on the final Order of Merit are eligible for the final tournament of the Altron Big Easy Tour. The top 12 players on the rankings will earn their Sunshine Tour playing cards for the upcoming season.


16th April 2024 | Big Easy Tour

Basson in three-way share of lead at Blue Valley

The final tournament of the Altron Big Easy Tour got off to an exciting start at Blue Valley Golf Estate as no less than three players posted first-round scores of 68 to lead the field by one on Tuesday.

Xander Basson, Jason Roets and Andre De Decker navigated their way expertly at Blue Valley on day one of this 54-hole event, signing for rounds of 68 apiece. Basson, who plays out of Silver Lakes Country Club in Pretoria, started like a house on fire in Centurion. After making a par on the first hole, Basson birdied the next four holes to get it to four-under through five.

His joy was short-lived, however, as he dropped on the par-four fifth. He steadied himself and parred the next hole before making further gains with a birdie two on the par-three eighth. He made par on the ninth to turn in 32.

The par on nine was followed by three more after the turn. Basson birdied the 13th but made back-to-back drops on 15 and 16. He redeemed himself with a solid birdie on the last to seal a round of 68.

“I got off to a really good start today, birdied four of my first five holes,” said Basson. “That got me going really quick but the wind slowed me down a little bit on the back nine. I just couldn’t get a proper club but I kept it together and birdied the last.

“I struggled a bit last week in the final round but today, it seems like I got a few things together, so I think I can go from here and do something special this week.”

Mauritius’ Pierre Pelegrin, Vaughn Van Deventer, Thrion Nel, Stals Swart, Werner Deyzel and veteran Andrew McLardy share fourth on the leaderboard on three-under after the first round. Last week’s runner-up, Ricky Hendler, Slade Pickering, Keegan Mclachlan, Leon Vorster and Travis Ladner make up the top 10 leading players on two-under-par.

Only the top 30 players on the final Order of Merit are eligible for the final tournament of the Altron Big Easy Tour. The top 12 players on the rankings will earn their Sunshine Tour playing cards for the upcoming season.


| Big Easy Tour

Swart targets Big Easy Final victory

He might have secured his Sunshine Tour card for the next season already but Stals Swart is not resting on his laurels, and a win is the only thing he seeks in this week’s Altron Big Easy Tour Final played at Blue Valley Golf Estate from Tuesday to Thursday.

Still in his rookie season, the Silver Lakes Country Club player earned his Sunshine Tour card for the 2024/25 season through the Blue Label Development Tour which awards main Tour cards to the top two players on that series’ Order of Merit. He lies seventh on the Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit and a solid performance here this week will push him even higher on the rankings, landing him within the top 12 players who will earn their Sunshine Tour playing privileges.

“Things seem to be heading in the right direction even though my game is not where I want it to be yet, said Swart ahead of the Final. “But, I am hoping to have a good week in the Final this week. I’m aiming to get through via the Big Easy Tour because, with that card, it’s easier to get into some events, especially the first four tournaments before the re-rank.

“But, honestly, it was a big relief when I got my card through the Blue Label,” he added. “That was my main goal for the season. Remember, it is still my rookie season, so that made it all the more special. A lot of work went into this campaign and I made a few changes midway through the season, so it’s good to see it paying off.”

Some of the changes he made started to pay dividends already as Swart narrowly missed out on a win in the Akasia event where he lost out to his good friend, Travis Ladner.

“That was something of a heartbreak for me,” he said, recalling his loss in Pretoria. “But that’s life. You win some and you lose some. These things are going to happen but it’s how to recover from those that matters. You just have to learn from those and move on and try to be better next time. I made it my goal to win one this season and I have one tournament left to do that. Let’s see if we can make it happen this week.”

Swart is among the top 30 players who are eligible for the 54-hole Final event at Blue Valley Golf Estate. Leading the final order of merit currently is Royal Cape Golf Club’s Samuel Simpson.

 


12th April 2024 | Big Easy Tour

O’Leary clinches Big Easy Play-Off for maiden title

Dylan O’Leary will breathe a sigh of relief following his one-stroke victory over Ricky Hendler in the Altron Big Easy Tour Play-Off held at Irene Country Club.

The 33-year-old Riyal Johannesburg and Kensington player brought a one-stroke lead into the final round of this penultimate event of the season and knew that only a strong performance would get him over the line. Lying 29th on the Order of Merit ahead of this 54-hole event, and with 12 Sunshine Tour cards up for grabs come the end of the season, O’Leary had needed to show up and he did.

He signed for four-under-par 68 on Friday to total 13-under-par 203 and win his first Sunshine Tour-sanctioned tournament.

“This is huge for me, man,” exclaimed a visibly emotional O’Leary after his win. “I’ve had three wins on the Bushveld Tour but this is the big one for me. It’s been such a long season for me and I have had my fair share of personal issues to deal with. So, to win now and in the manner I did, is super special. I was 29th on the Order of Merit before this tournament and this win is going to bump me up. It feels like all the work is now paying off.”

Starting from the 10th, O’Leary opened with back-to-back birdies and parred the next three holes. Another birdie found its way into his card on the 15th – his sixth – before closing that stretch with another birdie for a blemish-free 32. Coming home, and after making pars on 10 and 11, O’Leary’s progress was halted, no thanks to bogeys on 12 and 13. He steadied himself once more and made three straight pars before closing with two birdies on 17 and 18.

“Things got a little wobbly on 12 and 13,” he noted, “and I had to quickly redirect my thoughts. Then, I got to the last two holes and I just got this renewed energy because Ricky was playing solidly. That guy can play; he just refuses to give up and when you have a playing partner like that, it rubs off you and I just had to keep going.

“Winning on this Tour is so tough and competing against guys like Ricky; he won’t take his foot off the gas, so you also need to step up. But, I am glad I managed to get it done, especially at this time in the season. It really helps to stay patient.”

Hendler was every bit as brilliant on Friday, popping up with a 68 of his own to make it a proper competition. Having secured his card already for next season’s Sunshine Tour campaign, Hendler will have another opportunity for a win in next week’s Final at Blue Valley Golf Estate.

Only the top 30 players on the Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit are eligible for the Final at Blue Valley.


11th April 2024 | Big Easy Tour

O’Leary leads as Hendler and Co. pile pressure in Irene

Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club’s Dylan O’Leary will take a slim lead into the final round of the Altron Big Easy Tour Play-Off on Friday, thanks to his second round of 68 which took his tournament total to nine-under par and a stroke clear of Ricky Hendler at Irene Country Club.

O’Leary was two shots off the pace set by Paul Boshoff after the opening round of this 54-hole event which is the second-last tournament of the current season. He shot 67 on day one and backed it up with a 68 on Thursday to take him to the summit of the leaderboard ahead of the final round.

“Today, I did the same things that I did yesterday,” said O’Leary, reflecting on his round. “But, I got off to a bit of a rocky start, and I know my psychologist will kill me but, my warm-up wasn’t great. But, I knew I could get it around and the putts fell in on the back nine. I had a really good back nine. I stayed in it.

“Tomorrow is going to be a tough day. Thoughts are going to wander; thoughts are going to come in tomorrow about winning or not winning, you know. But I must refocus myself on every shot and do the best that I can. The guys will come firing but they’re also in the same position that I am in. We will all go out there and whoever can hold it together the best, is probably going to take it.”

Leading the chase will be Dainfern Golf Estate’s Hendler whose brilliant back nine in the second round helped him five-under-par 67, and catapult him to second on the leaderboard. The left-hander was six-under-par 30 and bogey-free on that stretch.

“The front nine here is a bit tricky for me,” Hendler noted. “I think maybe it’s the shape I hit it as a left-handed golfer; I don’t know. And today the putts just didn’t drop. But, on the back nine, I made like two 10-footers in a row. My caddie was encouraging me a lot and we started to feel good about ourselves and said if we can shoot seven-under on the back nine, we can get into contention. We missed that target by one, but I’m still happy about how I played.

“I have been working very hard and I retained my Sunshine Tour card last week and that was awesome. So, I just came here this week to try and win and get some confidence back. But I am here to try to win this week and next week too, and get some confidence back because I know what I am capable of. So, I’m definitely going to come to play for a win tomorrow.”

Parys Golf and Country Estate’s Leon Vorster produced a scintillating 66 – the lowest round of the day – to get to seven under par and two off the pace.

“I putted well today,” said Vorster, “even though I feel like I left a few out there. I hope tomorrow they will come. The greens are really nice here, so I hope I can putt as well as I did today. I don’t like to dream ahead but a win for any of us here will mean a lot to that player. I’m lying 11th on the Order of Merit (top 12 earn Sunshine Tour cards for next season) and a good finish here and next week will help a lot. So, all of us here have different reasons to play well this week and at Blue Valley.”

Xander Basson, Christopher Long and overnight leader, Boshoff, share the fourth spot on the leaderboard on six-under for the tournament.

Only the top 50 players on the Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit are eligible for the Play-Off tournament which precedes the Final event of the season.


10th April 2024 | Big Easy Tour

Bogey-free Boshoff leads at Irene

The opening round of the Altron Big Easy Tour Play-Off tournament – which was suspended on Tuesday – got underway at Irene Country Club on Wednesday and Paul Boshoff carded a blemish-free seven-under 65 to lead by two strokes over Dylan O’Leary.

Scheduled for Tuesday 9 April, the opening round of this penultimate tournament in the regular season was abandoned due to inclement weather and resumed early on Wednesday. With the weather conditions a lot better than the previous day, Boshoff took full advantage of the improved conditions.

“The green-keeping staff did a wonderful job on this course,” remarked Boshoff. “Apart from a wet patch here or there, one would not believe that it rained so heavily here yesterday. The course is just phenomenal; the greens are truly in great shape considering the amount of rain yesterday.

“Other than that, though, I didn’t hit it as best as I wanted but I am very pleased with a bogey-free round. The ball-striking was not the best but I was able to get myself out of trouble when I needed to. A bogey-free 65 is never a bad start and I will take this sort of performance.”

Boshoff took advantage of the par-fives on his front nine; birdieing both the second hole and the ninth. After the turn, the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate player didn’t hold back. He birdied the par-five 10th and followed it up with another on 11. Boshoff made further gains on the par-three 13th, making a birdie there before closing with two more on 17 and 18.

He is two shots clear of O’Leary who signed for a near-perfect five-under 67.

“I thought I had a shaky start because I pulled my driver on my first hole but I ended up making a par there,” said O’Leary who plays out of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington. “But, from there, I just let myself go and started to play my normal game. I birdied number two and three, and on both holes, I hit it very close. I just gave myself a lot of chances today and I was happy with that because in this game, you have to create opportunities for yourself.

“The bogey on 10; I got inside my own head a little bit there about that putt and I started to think about my score a little too much. But with hindsight, I’m almost glad I made the bogey because it kind of reset my thinking to say we still have a lot of golf to play and a long way to go. After that, I was just in the zone and tried to keep things as simple as I possibly could.”

Members of the Papwa Sewgolum Class, Franklin Manchest and Jordan Duminy tie third after the opening round, thanks to rounds of 68 apiece. Veteran campaigner, Andrew McLardy, Vaughn Van Deventer, Christopher Long, Ricky Hendler and another member of the Papwa Sewgolum Class, Allister de Kock share fifth on three-under.

Only the top 50 players on the Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit are eligible for the Play-Off tournament which precedes the Final event of the season.


| Big Easy Tour

Bad weather halts Big Easy Tour Play-Off opening round

The first round of the Altron Big Easy Tour Play-Off tournament was called off due to inclement at Irene Country Club on Tuesday.

The top 50 players on the Order of Merit qualified for this penultimate event of the season but Tuesday’s opening round was suspended due to heavy rains and an unplayable course.

“The tournament office decided to suspend the opening round due to the bad weather we have been experiencing here,” said Tournament Director, Ludwick Manyama. “The course proved impossible to play as most of it was waterlogged and we couldn’t allow the round to go on.

“We pride ourselves in staging professional golf tournaments at a high level and we believe that every tournament is an opportunity for our members to showcase their talents and skills. The Tour takes the safety of our members seriously and as such, suspending the first round was the only viable option.”

The opening round resumes on Wednesday morning.


28th March 2024 | Big Easy Tour

Patience pays off for Le Roux as he claims Blue Label victory

Steven Le Roux needed sudden-death to win his first Sunshine Tour-sanctioned tournament as he defeated a spirited Samuel Simpson in the first play-off hole of the Blue Label Development Tour’s one-day event held at Observatory Golf Club on Thursday.

The tournament was the sixth and final one in the Blue Label Development Tour series for the season.

Le Roux was first in the clubhouse with his flawless 64 and while many players were posting some low scores, Simpson was just as impressive on the day. With both players tied for the top spot, the winner had to be decided via a play-off.

“Doing it in a play-off makes it feel a little better,” said an elated Le Roux. “My first year on Tour (last year) was just pure struggle; nothing went my way. But, I knew from my peers and my friends that it takes time. You need to get the experience and that’s what I have been patient for. I have always known that I can play this game. It is nice to finally get it done.

“We practice for these types of moments; we are professionals and this is our job. So, when it comes to clutch moments like a play-off, you need to remember that you’ve been doing the work. If it’s your time to win, you will win. So, it’s about patience and belief in your process and ability.”

In the playoff, Simpson’s tee shot found the left of the fairway on the par-four first hole and his second shot dropped some 40-feet behind the flag. He narrowly missed his birdie-putt and it was advantage to Le Roux. The Wanderers Golf Club member, Le Roux, had found the middle of the fairway with a perfect driver. His second shot dropped to about 10-feet of the pin and he was left with a tricky but easy enough tap-in for a birdie and a win.

“Sam is an excellent player and whenever you play with these kinds of players, your own game also improves,” he said, giving credit to the level of competition that the Altron Big Easy Tour fields provide. “Today, my only aim was to enjoy myself and try to keep improving. The key for me was keeping the bogeys off the card and luckily I was able to do that while making a few birdies along the way. There were a couple of putts out there that I felt I should have or could have made but I’m not complaining.”

“I gave myself a lot of chances today,” he said. “This is a good golf course and you need to place it well off the tee. The approach shots are also very important here if you want to give yourself a chance on the greens. But the key for me was in and around the greens. I rolled in a few nice putts today and that was down to creating good opportunities for myself. That was my goal today; to create as many opportunities for myself, and I did that well.

With this win, Le Roux moves to second on the Blue Label Development Tour’s Order of Merit and with the top two players on those standings earning their Sunshine Tour cards for next season, Le Roux has sealed his spot among the elite of professional golf. He becomes the second member of the Papwa Sewgolum Transformation Class to grace the winner’s circle in the last two weeks.

In the Sunshine Tour’s Stellar Artois Players Championship held at Dainfern Golf Estate last week, it was a fellow member of that transformation initiative, Heinrich Bruiners, who walked home with the victory.

The Blue Label Development Tour is another Sunshine Tour initiative designed to afford players more playing opportunities while also providing pathways to the Sunshine Tour.


14th March 2024 | Big Easy Tour

Nel grinds to victory in Benoni

Therion Nel carded a final-round 71 to claim a one-shot victory over Vaughn van Deventer on a total of 11-under-par at Benoni Country Club on Thursday.

Although he played well enough in the final round – especially on the back nine where he made three birdies and a solitary bogey – it was still a nervy final round for Nel as Van Deventer also charged for victory.

“This was a very up-and-down round,” noted Nel, who plays out of Bloemfontein Golf Club. “Truly speaking, I played solidly; just a few dumb mistakes. I had a three-putt on 14 after a couple of good holes and a birdie. I had a lot of momentum there but that broke it a little bit. So, there were one or two situations that got to me a bit, especially after that three-putt. But I finished strong; a birdie on the 18th. So, I’m very happy with how I played.”

Nel’s front nine was not bad either. He was one-over-par on that stretch and showed some big-match-temperament coming home.

“A win on this Tout gives you a lot of confidence; that you can compete and win against the best players in South Africa. This result certainly gives me that confidence now to say I can compete. I lost my Sunshine Tour card a couple of years back and the Big Easy Tour is one way of getting it back. There is a lot of work to be done and some important tournaments coming, so I will need some good results there to improve my chances of getting back to the Sunshine Tour.”

Such is the importance of the circuit to the players. The Altron Big Easy Tour does not only offer professional golfers an opportunity to compete at a high level and on some magnificent golf courses, it also provides a direct pathway to the Sunshine Tour.

As things stand, Nel is seventh on the Order of Merit with two events – The Play-Off at Irene Country Club and The Final at Blue Valley. The top 50 players on the Order of Merit will be eligible to play the Play-Off and from there, the top 30 will move on to play in The Final.

“It’s been a long road but there’s still a long road ahead,” Nel said, reflecting on where he lies on the standings. “But it’s always nice to see some results after a lot of hard work. I am just happy to be back in the winner’s circle. My last win was a few years back when the Big Easy was sanctioned elsewhere.

Current leader of the Order of Merit, Royal Cape Golf Club’s Samuel Simpson and Werner Deyzel finished in a share of third on eight-under-par 208. Paul Boshoff and Warwich Purchase tied fifth on seven-under while Eric Wowor finished solo seventh on six-under.

Gerhard Trytsman and members of the Papwa Sewgolum Class, Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Wade Jacobs and Allister de Kock finished in a share of eighth on a tournament total of five-under-par 211.